Editor's Note — April 10, 2014, 3:28 pm

Introducing the May 2014 Issue

The life-coach industry, quinoa quarreling, and the comedy of Doug Stanhope

Harper's Magazine (May 2014)At one time or another, we’ve all felt unsure of our futures. We worry about our personal relationships, of course, but also about our careers. Who among us hasn’t felt insecure about getting a job, keeping a job, advancing in it? To answer these questions, an increasing number of people have turned to life coaching — and have wondered whether it wasn’t time to ditch more traditional forms of therapy. In the May 2014’s cover story, “50,000 Life Coaches Can’t Be Wrong,” Genevieve Smith, who last wrote on the self-help movement in the June 2012 issue of Harper’s Magazine, immerses herself in what has become a thriving industry. Joining a class of aspiring coaches — i.e., dissatisfied people who are being taught how to advise other dissatisfied people — she ponders the fine line between self-help and hucksterism. Yes, Smith would insist: there is a difference.

Since everyone seems to love quinoa these days, we have included a report on this miracle crop by Lisa M. Hamilton. Though often the butt of jokes (most memorably, a beer commercial comparing a quinoa cake to a loofah sponge), this grain is amazingly resilient, flourishing even in freezing, arid, and salt-saturated soil, and could go a long way toward feeding the world’s hungry. The largest quinoa seed bank, however, is owned by the Bolivian government, and the country is reluctant to share it. In “The Quinoa Quarrel: Who Owns the World’s Greatest Superfood?” Hamilton travels to the Andes, where she talks to Bolivian geneticists and growers, and to Provo, Utah, where a pair of Mormon agronomists dream of growing hybrid quinoa on an industrial scale — and perhaps even patenting it.

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, the much admired author of Random Family, writes about the impressively foul-mouthed comedian and provocateur Doug Stanhope. Although he has had a loyal fan base for the past twenty years, Stanhope has become better known recently thanks to the effusive praise of comics like Louis CK, Sarah Silverman, and Ricky Gervais. LeBlanc catches up with Stanhop’s Big Stink Tour in Tampa, Florida, and travels with his crew throughout the South, producing a portrait of a fiercely independent, extremely creative, booze-infused personality.

Alice Gregory reports on the phenomenon of the “found money” TV show — a new, very popular genre in which people bid on the contents of houses, luggage, trunks, and all kinds of boxes without knowing what’s inside. The winning bidders, of course, are hoping they may have purchased valuable jewelry, rare coins, or antique pottery. Just as often, though, they get exactly what they paid for: zilch. In Gregory’s view, these shows are purely cynical, a producer’s wink at the current recession and the financial industry that created it.

Also in this issue: photographs from the Sochi Olympics by Benjamin Lowy; Michael Robbins on the links between poetry and metal; a short story by Antonya NelsonLaura Miller on our enduring fascination with Sherlock Holmes; Daniel Smith on Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History; and Maria Bustillos reporting from Texas on the human suffering caused by state governors who refuse to accept federal Medicaid money under the Affordable Care Act.

Share
Single Page

More from Ellen Rosenbush:

Editor's Note December 11, 2014, 3:32 pm

Introducing the January 2015 Issue

Jen Percy examines women’s rights in liberated Afghanistan, Sam Frank hangs out with Silicon Valley’s apocalyptic libertarians, Emily Witt analyzes Pinochet’s legacy in Chile, and more

Editor's Note November 13, 2014, 12:03 pm

Introducing the December 2014 Issue

Sarah Topol follows the trade routes used by arms smugglers, Eric Foner explores the hidden history of the Underground Railroad, Karl Ove Knausgaard recounts a humiliating episode from grade school, and more

Editor's Note October 19, 2014, 7:51 pm

Introducing the November 2014 Issue

Doug Henwood on stopping Hillary Clinton, fighters and potential recruits discuss the rise of the Islamic State, the inevitability of factory farming, and more

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

  • Albert Wien

    Laura Miller’s essay on Holmes is brilliant, but your editors should have clamped down on the trendy millennial inarticulateness of Michael Robbins’ piece on metal and poetry.

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

January 2015

Come With Us If You Want to Live

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Body Politic

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Problem of Pain Management

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Game On

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Love Crimes

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Body Politic·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“‘He wrote all these love poems, but he was a son of a bitch,’ said a reporter from a wire service.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
Article
Love Crimes·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If a man rapes a woman, she might be forced to marry him, because in Afghanistan sex before marriage is dishonorable.”
Photographs © Andrew Quilty/Oculi/Agence VU
Article
Game On·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union had posed a truly existential threat.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Come With Us If You Want to Live·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I was startled that all these negative ideologies could be condensed so easily into a positive worldview.”
Illustration by Darrel Rees
Article
Christmas in Prison·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Just so you motherfuckers know, I’ll be spending Christmas with my family, eating a good meal, and you’ll all be here, right where you belong.”
Photographer unknown. Artwork courtesy Alyse Emdur

Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:

36,000

A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.

Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today